Thought Leadership

Neurodiversity: Untapped Talent Waiting To Grow Your Company

Over the past few decades, the workforce has been constantly evolving. With the gradual shift from a predominantly male office place to a gender-inclusive and then racially diverse workspace. Companies have learnt that creating a diverse internal organisation has had a major positive impact on the way that they function and are perceived by the public. But unfortunately, in spite of all these major gains, people who fall under the neurodiverse spectrum still face numerous hurdles when it comes to employment.


What is Neurodiversity?

Coined in the year 1998 by sociologist Judy Singer, the term Neurodiversity refers to the concept that there is a variation in the way the human brain functions in many, which compels people to think, emote and interact with the world in a unique manner that might not be the norm. Individuals who are dyslexic, autistic, epileptic, bipolar or diagnosed with dyscalculia, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, DCD all come under the umbrella of neurodivergent.

Though neurodivergent people make up nearly 15–20% of our population, a report conducted in 2020 showcased that only 7% of companies world over have a neurodiversity plan in place. So, it is no surprise that the unemployment rate for neurodivergent adults is as high as 30-40%. Since most neurodiverse people struggle to conform to the standard behavioural practices that makes one a ‘perfect’ employee, more often than not, recruiters tend to dismiss them because they struggle with navigating the interview process. But given a chance, along with a supportive environment and necessary tools, hiring a neurodivergent candidate can greatly improve your organisation.

How does Neurodiversity benefit your workplace?

  1. Unique Perspective

José Velasco, head of the Autism at Work program at multinational software corporation SAP for North America once said, “If everybody thinks the same way, we’re likely to miss opportunities to bring creative solutions to the market.” And that is one of the foremost benefits of hiring a neurodiverse employee. They are brimming with potential that is waiting to be tapped and that is why major MNCs such as SAP, Microsoft, Ford, Dell Technologies, Deloitte, IBM, JP Morgan Chase & Co have started inclusive hiring programs to induct a broader definition of talent into their workforce.

2. Company Loyalty

In comparison to neurotypical employees, several neurodiverse hiring programs have retention rates of more than 90%, a figure that is fairly higher than the average retention rates. In addition to that, according to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, most neurodiverse employees showcase higher morale and are loyal to their employers. This is mainly due to the fact that finding a supportive and inclusive work environment is difficult and hence neurodivergent employees are more committed to their companies and jobs.

3. Connect With A Wider Audience

According to Neil Barnett, the Director of inclusive hiring and accessibility at Microsoft, “Weaving talent with disabilities into the fabric of the company creates better processes, products and services for everyone.” This is because the personal experiences of neurodiverse employees allow them to provide solutions to numerous problems that other neurodiverse customers face on a daily basis. This thereby furthers innovation at your company and opens up the doors to a much larger audience of potential customers.

Some of the greatest innovators and businessmen in the world, such as Albert Einstein, Alan Turin, and Henry Ford to name a few, have been individuals who fall under the neurodiverse spectrum. Richard Branson, the Founder of the Virgin Group, has always celebrated being neurodiverse. “My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the very beginning and imagination has been the key to many of our successes,” he says. Branson also credits his dyslexia for his strong imagination, “It’s always helped me to have big dreams and to keep looking forward.”

Neurodiverse employees have the potential to shine just as bright, if not brighter, than neurotypical employees. With their logical mindset and atypical approach to problem-solving, they make some of the best employees and leaders. Society as we know it wouldn’t be the same without their immense contributions. So, perhaps it is time for your organisation to take that first step towards exploring this pool of remarkable neurodiverse people.